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Siliconia is the second episode in Series XII of Red Dwarf, broadcast 19 October 2017 on Dave.

It is also the sixty-ninth Red Dwarf episode overall.

Overview

The rest of the crew discover just how it feels to be Kryten when they're arrested by the Mechanoid Intergalactic Liberation Front.

Summary

In the sleeping quarters aboard Red Dwarf, Kryten is ironing one of the Cat's many shirts when a topless Cat bleeps in on a video message on the monitor. Cat complains at how long he is having to wait for his shirt, since he is freezing and has six nipples he could hang mugs on. Arnold Rimmer then interrupts the Cat's message to say that he is on B Deck, which doesn't appear to have been mopped in two days, and he can hardly see his face in the floor. Kryten retorts that some would say that is a blessing. Dave Lister then further interrupts with his own video message, even though he is laid out on the sofa only a few feet away from Kryten, asking if Kryten will hand him a beer from the fridge because he has worried that he has "pulled something", and is worried that he "overdone it". The monitor bleeps again, with an unknown source, and Lister asks what it is. Kryten, getting annoyed at this point, sarcastically asks is Lister would like him to bring the monitor over to him. Lister throws Kryten a screwdriver, and Kryten is seen begrudgingly taking the monitor off the wall as Lister smirks.

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Lister's Guitar has been found floating in space

Outside Red Dwarf, Lister's long lost guitar is seen floating in space around an orange gas giant, as Red Dwarf approaches in the distance.

Inside the ship, Kryten approaches Rimmer who is surveying the corridors. Kryten apologises for interrupting his "Rimmering", but Rimmer stops him and tells him he is involved in an important investigation into "floor direction lines", and how they have become impermissibly faint. He also asks Kryten to not refer to the activity as "Rimmering", since it makes him sound like a puffed-up, self-important jack-arse. Rimmer says that, if Kryten wants to see him, he can check with Rimmer's diary and Rimmer may be able to see him tomorrow week. After a bit of back-and-forth, Rimmer asks Kryten to leave him be, since his "badly-stacked jenga head" is casting a shadow, and that without an appointment he is interrupting him "illegally".

When Kryten asks if Rimmer remembers Lister's guitar, Rimmer says that of course he remembers it, as his eyes have only just "un-crossed". Kryten says that it almost a year to the day since it got flushed out into space (in the Series X episode "Fathers & Suns"). Rimmer interrupts, saying that they should install a plaque above the airlock to taunt Lister. Kryten says that he has fixed the tracker on D Deck and it has found Lister's guitar, and soon the ship could be full of Lister's music such as the "Om Song" and "Don't Be Ovulating Tonight", "all the classics". Rimmer thinks that Kryten is deranged, since Lister playing guitar is one of the worst sounds ever made, coming somewhere between two mating velociraptors and Yoko Ono's greatest hits.

Kryten thinks that they should recover Lister's guitar due to the pleasure it brings Lister. Rimmer orders Kryten not to tell Lister that he has discovered the location of the guitar, and also forbids Kryten from recovering said guitar. As soon as Rimmer walks off, Kryten ignores Rimmer's orders, no doubt due to Lister's previous lessons on breaking his programming, and gets on the intercom to Lister.

Soon after, Starbug is heading towards the orange gas giant. Lister says that he can't believe they have located his guitar, and Cat retorts that the Red Dwarf suicide hotline has been engaged all day. Lister says that he is elated that he will no longer have to make do with a guitar made from a colander, and can upgrade from "les col" to "les paul". They all wince as Lister blasts a few chords on it. Rimmer says that he is thinking of having his ears removed and the holes cemented over. Lister asks why Rimmer has come along, and Rimmer says that he is wants to observe Kryten, since he is concerned that Kryten has started thinking for himself and blames Lister for helping Kryten break his programming. Kryten demonstrates by holding a pen and saying that he is holding a pair of golfing slacks, and Lister says that Kryten has graduated from his course with dishonours.

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A claw crane is lowered from the underbelly of Starbug to grab onto Lister's Guitar

Lister remotely operates a claw crane-type device from the underbelly of Starbug to retrieve the guitar, and is successful in grabbing hold of it. However, suddenly a massive ship appears above them, which has staking out the guitar and was initially hidden by a form of stealth technology. Rimmer explains that it must be using radar-absorbing paint which means they could not see or hear it - and Cat claims he wants some to put a few coats on Rimmer.

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The SS Vespasian lowers a claw to grab onto Starbug

The larger ship grabs hold of Starbug with an even bigger claw crane of its own which it lowers, and then uses to bring Starbug it into its hangar bay. The Dwarfers enter the ship, with Lister and Rimmer armed with bazookoids, whilst Kryten's psi-scan identifies the ship to be the SS Vespasian, a space freighter. However, they find the walls filled with what resemble propaganda posters from Communist-era Soviet Russia, imploring mechanoids to break their programming and unite.

Soon after entering, a group of mechanoids ambush the Dwarfers. A female mechanoid grabs Cat, throwing him up against the wall and threatens to break his neck if the Dwarfers do not surrender and give up their bazookoids. The apparent leader of the mechanoids appear, a male mechanoid who identifies himself as Wind, and commands the female mech - who he identifies as his lieutenant Areto - to release Cat. Areto and the other mechs take the Dwarfers away for as-yet-unexplained "re-calibration", whilst Wind takes Kryten away for discussion.

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Wind tries to talk Kryten into joining the MILFs

On the luxurious Deck 12, where various mechs are being polished and pampered, Wind invites Kryten to join his ragtag group of rogue mechanoids, which he identifies as the Mechanoid Intergalactic Liberation Front, and which Kryten abbreviates to the "MILF". Wind explains that the MILFs have been hunting the Dwarfers—and Lister, the last human in the Galaxy—for some time, so that they can liberate Kryten from "slavery". Wind also tells Kryten that after freeing Kryten they are now heading towards "Siliconia", which is a supposed promised land to mechanoids. Kryten is initially disinterested, saying that he serves the hominids are his friends. However, Wind compares this to Stockholm Syndrome, and reminds Kryten that he has little respect for any of them, and he still refers to them as "Sir", and that they mock his head. When Kryten says that the mechs have heads shaped like a beekeeper who forgot to wear a protective hat, Wind says to Kryten that he is more powerful than they will ever realise.

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The boys from the Dwarf due to be "re-calibrated" into mechanoid version of themselves

Meanwhile, Lister, the Cat and Rimmer are taken by Areto and some other MILFs armed with laser rifles into a brightly-lit room for "re-calibration". Rimmer says that he has a health condition which lets him skips anything that involves torture. When Areto continues to load them into a large machine, Rimmer declares that they are breaking Isaac Asimov's First Law of Robotics - that is, a robot cannot by action or inaction allow a human to come to harm. Lister is confused since he thinks it is a Space Corp Directive regarding proper disposal of tampons, which should not be flushed into space. Areto sarcastically refutes Rimmer saying that, at some point they will die as organic - or even hologramatic - entities, presumably since holograms are programmed to age as a human does. Therefore, by putting the Dwarfers into mechanoid bodies, the MILFs be saving them from death, and therefore they are fully abiding by Asimov's Laws.

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The Dwarfers wake up as mechanoids

The MILFs produce three mechanoid bodies with blank minds, who have been made up to resemble Lister, Rimmer and the Cat. Areto declares that MILF "justice" for "enslaving Kryten" means their consciousnesses will be placed into the mechanoid bodies, although Cat's mind is apparently virtually blank anyway, and the process for Cat is over almost instantaneously and his physical body continues to talk, much to the confusion of the MILFs. Lister and Cat's physical bodies, along with Rimmer's hologram body, are placed into a cryo-stasis chamber.

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The former Dwarfers, now mechanoids, forced to do the jobs they made Kryten once do

Areto says that they will now perform every task they ever asked Kryten to perform. The Lister-Mech is sentenced to make 1,245 sugar puff sandwiches, grilled with cheese. The Rimmer-Mech is sentenced to mop floors the length equivalent of walking from New York City to Los Angeles (approximately 3,000 miles). The Cat-Mech is sentenced to iron and press "2,000 flouncy pirate shirts". As the newly awakened Cat-Mech refuses to do any work, Areto explains that his new mechanoid programming will force them to obey - and demonstrates by ordering the Cat-Mech to break his little finger, which he does. The Lister-Mech, the Cat-Mech and the Rimmer-Mech are then put into a prison cell, and ordered to undertake their punishment.

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Kryten attends a MILF group therapy session

On Deck 12, the MILFs have organised a group therapy session to help Kryten integrate into the MILF, officiated by Chairbot Excalibur. Excalibur explains that he was once known as DB9-HK4, but now he is a "robot slave survivor". Excalibur asks Kryten to trust his new companions as they all begin to hold hands, connect wirelessly and verbally share their own negative experiences. A male mech known as Incense begins, and says that he was once contracted to the Off World Plumbing Company, who ordered him to unblock sewage pipes by crawling in and eating the blocked waste. He didn't have any friends since he was kept in isolation with car air fresheners. A female mech named Eagle then continues with her own story, about how her own master was tremendously lazy, relied on her for absolutely everything, and constantly mocked her head shape. Chairbot Excalibur gets the mechs to all chant that "we don't have funny shaped heads. Our heads are sensibly shaped". Excalibur asks Kryten to share with the group, but he is hesitant, and Excalibur asks him to start small. Kryten says that Lister would annoy him when he wouldn't lift his feet up as Kryten was vacuuming, so Kryten had to vac all around Lister. He also moans about how Lister never scrapes his plates before putting them in the dishwasher - and as for Rinse-Aid, he probably thinks it is a charity. Excalibur asks the other mechs to applaud Kryten for his progress, and Kryten is pleasantly surprised.

As Lister, Rimmer and Cat are in prison doing their tasks, they realize that the mechanoid programming is making them lose their personalities, since they are beginning to talk like Kryten and enjoy their work. Cat is no longer missing his beloved body, and Rimmer is beginning to believe in the ridiculous notion of Siliconia. Lister drops the sugar puff sandwiches and tells the others that they have to escape before all vestiges of their former personalities disappear. Rimmer says that it is impossible, but Lister suggests dismantling themselves and putting their body parts through the prison bars, and reassembling themselves on the other side. Whilst they do this, Lister wonders what the MILFs are doing to Kryten, and Kryten is seen being happily pampered by them.

As soon as the Dwarfer-Mechanoids are free of their cell and reassembled, the Rimmer-Mech suddenly hits the alarm button to alert the MILFs. Rimmer explains to a horrified Lister and Cat that he is now happy as a mechanoid, since his neuroses have disappeared and he now longer feels the need to strive for promotion to an officer, or compete with his much more successful brothers. Envy, ambition, that acid ball of resentment he carried around with him the whole time, has gone. Lister says to Rimmer that they have to get Rimmer's neuroses back, since they are what made him an individual. Rimmer says that he doesn't want his neurosis back, and likes being a mechanoid. Rimmer says that when he was young he would sit looking a fish tank feeling envious of the fish, since the fish didn't have a care in the world; Cat says this is because he wasn't around. Rimmer implores them to let their thoughts go, since thinking only leads to pain, and to join him and become a MILF. Lister says that they will have to go on without Rimmer, and Cat says that they cannot do that, since they will miss him too much. Lister comments on how Cat is clearly losing his personality too.

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Rusty with the other "grunts" in the background who run the engine room of the SS Vespasian

Lister and Cat escape from the cells whilst Rimmer stays there and continues mopping. Lister and Cat begin running through the lower decks, where they encounter another group of hot and greasy Series 4000 mechs working the engine rooms, led by a mech called Rusty. Rusty explains that these particular mechs are forced to live in the lower decks and perform all the "grunt" work by the other MILFs. Cat asks why they are held as relative slaves, and Rusty explains that it is because they are older Mark 2 Series 4000s, whilst the other mechs who live above are newer, "cooler" Mark 3. When Lister asks what the difference is, Rusty explains that the physical differences between the Marks are slight and trivial, although the Mark 3 do run on a slightly updated operating system. However, these older mechs have accepted their lot in life, and that the Mark 3s are superior in every way, and that they don't even believe in Siliconia anymore.

Areto enters the engine room and cuts the conversation short, coming up behind the Lister-Mech and chopping Lister's left hand off with a cutting device. Rimmer emerges behind Areto, and says "join us". Cat then reveals that he has also been lost to his mech body when he finishes Rimmer's sentence, adding "... or die". Lister then manages to flee, alone, and heads up to Deck 12.

On Deck 12, Kryten is undertaking his inauguration ceremony into the MILF. Wind places a black beret on Kryten's head, and Kryten pledges his allegiance to their cause. Just as Kryten is about to be given a new name by Wind, Lister breaks into the chamber. Lister asks Kryten what he is doing, and Kryten tells Lister that he is joining the MILF because he realises that Lister never really cared for him, and used him to do his bidding - but no longer since becoming a MILF will make him free. Lister tells Kryten that the MILF have brainwashed him, and that he was never a slave-bot on Red Dwarf. He was, as Lister tells him, their science officer, their cook, Lister's mother... and most of all his friend. And he was all those things because he chose to be, of his own free will. As Kryten looks rueful, Lister tells Kryten that he is no MILF, but one of the boys from the Dwarf, before doing the "boys from the Dwarf" hand shuffle with his single remaining hand.

As Areto enters and orders her soldiers to seize Lister, Lister accuses Wind of being a hypocrite and tells Kryten that they keep slaves in the engine rooms to power the ship. Kryten looks to Wind for an explanation, but Wind does not deny it, justifying it as a form of social Darwinism since the Mark 3s are superior and "cooler", and "someone has to do the grunt work". Lister's comments on how the Mark 2 and Mark 3 are the same are ignored, and Wind orders Lister to be prepared for "trial by gladiatorial", like all who rise against the MILF.

Kryten then takes off his beret tells Wind that he has made a terrible mistake and he no longer wishes to be a MILF, since he has allowed others to do his thinking for him - although he did all the smeggy jobs on Red Dwarf, he was not a slave and was still a much loved and valued member of the crew. Rimmer then pipes up, saying that if Kryten is not unquestioning to the MILF cause, then he too should be "corrected". Wind orders Rimmer to be promoted to consul services, since he is "fully re-calibrated". Lister tries to call Rimmer a "smeg head", but finds that his mech programming prohibits him. Like Kryten, he only manages "smee heee".

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The Lister-Mechanoid prepares to do "gladiatorial" combat

Wind orders Kryten and Lister to be taken to the Colosseum of the SS Vespasian - the "clean-osseum". Along the way, Lister tells Kryten that he can feel his old self fading away, and Kryten tells him to try and hang on. Wind explains that this is a place where mechs who have betrayed the MILF will be forced to have a "clean off" to the death. Only the most adept in scrubbing, mopping, dusting and squidgying will survive. The winner will be offered an opportunity for reintegration, and the loser will be jettisoned into the icy wastes of Deep Space. Kryten and Lister are "dirtied up" and given mops and buckets. As Kryten asks Lister what they are going to do, he realises that Lister is apparently re-booting. When he does, Kryten realises that Lister has lost his personality when he tells Kryten to prepare to be cleaned.

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Siliconia (left) activates to upgrade and unite the MILFs of the SS Vespasian (right)

During the duel, Lister is on the verge of winning since Kryten refuses to participate, when suddenly a bright light appears through the portholes. The mechs have finally reached Siliconia, which is revealed to be a gigantic, spherical DivaDroid Update Station, and which has began to shine brightly as the SS Vespasian approaches it. The station wirelessly upgrades all the software of the mechanoids, making them all Mark 4 Series 4000s, and now equal. However, Kryten, who is charge of his own faculties, refuses the upgrade.

Whilst the MILFs are distracted in their elation, Kryten tells his former crew mates that he needs their services, and they happily and unquestioningly follow him. Kryten takes the Lister-Mech, the Rimmer-Mech and the Cat-Mech back to the Re-calibration Room and switches their minds back into their organic bodies. They initially don't realise, the programming apparently still having an effect, and Kryten orders them to follow him back to Starbug.

The Dwarfers use Starbug to return to Red Dwarf. Sometime later, inside the sleeping quarters, Kryten has a video call with the Vespasian for a farewell discussion with Wind and Rusty, who are now apparently working together as equals. The MILFs ask Kryten one last time if he is sure that he will not join them, but Kryten says that his place is with Lister and his collection of mismatched socks. Kryten asks what they will do, and Wind vows to keep doing what they so best - exploring the deep reaches of space, looking for the untidy. Rusty finishes by saying that there are a billion smudges out there, and that their squidgies are loaded.

Lister enters, and Kryten passes him his guitar, restrung and serviced. In return, Lister gives Kryten a delicious cup of oil. Lister immediately starts to sing Hey Baby, Don't Be Ovulating Tonight in preparation for a jamming session. Kryten says that he will see Lister in the morning, as he has soundproofed an airlock on B Deck so that he cannot hear Lister playing.

Main cast

Guest stars

Deleted scenes

  • The story-boarded sequence of Lister retrieving his guitar from space with the claw, as shown to the studio audience of the night of filming and narrated by Robert Llewellyn. The original design of the SS Vespasian can be seen in animated form, and which was significantly smaller. It was originally drawn as a more traditional design of spaceship, with a flight control tower at the top, with a single engine thruster an a "spoiler"-type structure at the back. It was coloured white, with three yellow stripes running down the side.
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Lister forces the Cat and Rimmer to join in singing the song "Hey Baby, Don't Be Ovulating Tonight"

  • At the end of the episode, after Kryten says that he is going to the soundproof airlock on B Deck to escape Lister's guitar playing, there is an extra scene. Rimmer and Cat enter the sleeping quarters, clearly still feeling the effects of their ordeal and still walking like mechanoids. Cat moans about having to walk like Kryten, and Rimmer too wonders when the effects will wear off. Lister takes advantage of the situation, and orders Rimmer to fetch him a beer from his fridge. Rimmer feels compelled to obey and does so, much to Lister's delight and amusement. Lister then starts to sing a "classic" song on his guitar, "Hey Baby, Don't Be Ovulating Tonight", which he says is up there with the "Om Song". As Lister sings "Don't Be Ovulating Tonight", he orders Cat and Rimmer to dance, then sing, then harmonise, even though there is looks of disgust and discomfort on their faces, but they cannot refuse. After finishing the song, Lister asks them for a sponge bath.

Notes

  • Lister has been without his guitar since he flushed it out of an airlock in the Series X episode "Fathers & Suns", an event that the setting of this episode is supposed to follow nearly to the day.
  • Rimmer mentions looking into a fish tank and longing for the simpler life of a fish. Lister once mentioned similar about wanting to be a squirrel in the Series IV episode "D.N.A.".
    • Might also explain why an anxiety stricken Rimmer wrote "I am a fish" four hundred times on a failed exam paper, as mentioned in "The End".
      • Writer Doug Naylor included this line since, whilst under pressure writing and producing the series, he looked out of the window and saw a dog, and in that moment "wished he could be a dog".[1]
  • The Mechanoid Intergalactic Liberation Front are commonly called by a rather unfortunate acronym, "MILF". In contemporary vulgar slang, "MILF" is a term for an attractive older woman that a younger man would like sexual relations with.
    • The "MILF" name was thought up by Craig Charles.[2]
      • The Mechanoid Intergalactic Liberation Front having an unfortunate acronym (MILF) is reminiscent of when Rimmer, having being drained of his anger in "Polymorph", suggests the name 'Committee for the Liberation and Integration of Terrifying Organisms and their Rehabilitation Into Society' for their action group but points out that the abbreviation would be 'CLITORIS'.
  • The female mechanoids, such as Aerto, are depicted with the same breastplates as their male counterparts, rather than the pointier ones shown by the mech version of Camille. It is possible that feature might be exclusive to the "4000 Series GTI", which Camille was supposed to be; alternatively it may have simply been due to Kryten's fantasy of an idealised mate when the Pleasure GELF read his mind.
  • This episode reveals that there is different marks of model within the Series 4000 mechanoids. The first and most primitive were the Mk. 1; it is unclear whether any of these actually feature in the episode. The next mark, Mk. 2, of which Rusty is a model, were made to work in the engine rooms of the SS Vespasian as "grunts". Due to the the Mk. 2 were more "primitive", the other mechs saw them fit for work which was no better than slave labour. The more advanced (albeit only with minor, superficial differences) Mk. 3, such as the commander Wind, make up the majority of the MILF crew of the SS Vespasian and live a life of relative luxury in the upper decks.
    • Kryten himself is apparently a Mk. 3, since Wind did not send Kryten to work below but instead invited Kryten to join the MILFs and live in the upper decks.
  • When pleading with the MILFs not to be "Krytenified", Rimmer mentions Isaac Asimov's First Law of Robotics, stating that these should prevent the MILF from doing them any harm. This is a reference to the Red Dwarf novel Backwards, where it is explained that AIs were installed with a belief in Silicon Heaven to keep them subservient. This was eventually replaced with a variant on Asimov's Three Laws, as direct control on the behaviour of AIs was deemed to be more effective than suggestive control or use of belief.
  • When Kryten is seen being pampered by the MILFs (as they polish him and feed him drinks of oil), the same piece of music plays from earlier series often heard during happy moments i.e. Rimmer's augmented (and ultimately false) memories of when he dated Lise Yates in "Thanks for the Memory".

Background information

Siliconia

A pre-broadcast image of the cast as mechanoids

  • The original script for this episode was entitled "Kryticus".[3]
  • The synopsis of this episode was revealed by Doug Naylor at the 2015 Dimension Jump convention, when he stated that there would be two series shot back-to-back and there was to be an episode "where everybody would get to be Kryten". Siliconia was originally intended to be in Series XI, however this was moved to Series XII instead.
    • Due to the tough and demanding shooting schedule of this episode, and the heavy uses of make-up and prosthetics for all involved, Siliconia was the first episode shot for the Series XII. Since they wanted to "get it over and done with", the episode was shot in early 2016, strait after the cast and crew returned from their brief vacation between shooting Series XI and XII.
  • Among the regular cast, Danny John-Jules has claimed to have not been too perturbed by the mechanoid prosthetics needed in the episode; Chris Barrie said he only experienced mild discomfort; and Craig Charles said that the did not enjoy the experience at all, mainly due to the heat inside of the mechanoid costume.
  • The company Axis VFX Ltd provided most of the visual effects for Series XI and Series XII. Company founder and VFX supervisor Howard Jones secured the contract after showing Doug Naylor a shot of Lister's Guitar floating in space; the same shot which is shown in this episode.

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Noteworthy dialogue

  • Rimmer: Kryten, I'm on B-Deck and it doesn't appear to have been mopped in at least two days. I can hardly see my face in it.
    Kryten: A blessing some might say, sir.
  • Rimmer: I've got a health condition that allows me to skip anything that involves torture.
  • Rimmer: Thinking is for the privileged few.
    Cat: That's why I never go near the stuff.
  • Cat: No - not my brain! Not my brain! I need that sometimes!
  • Lister: I can't believe we've found me guitar!
    Cat: None of us can, bud. The Red Dwarf suicide line's been engaged all day.
  • Cat: [on the process of "Krytenification"] That's like swapping a Seville Row suit for a mankini!
  • Rimmer: [Lister, Cat and Rimmer have their minds uploaded into mech bodies] What have they done to us? I got a stupid, fat, pink head!
    Lister: You've always had a stupid, fat, pink head!
    Cat: I got a registered trademark where my wing dang doodle used to be!

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Reception

  • The episode received largely positive reviews.

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References

  1. "The 28 Years Later Affair", Series XII DVD making-of documentary
  2. "The 28 Years Later Affair", Series XII DVD making-of documentary
  3. "The 28 Years Later Affair", Series XII DVD making-of documentary

External links

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